Chris Cuomo being the obnoxious pseudo-journalist he is, it’s hard to find anything good to say about him. But he actually said some things that were on point last night in a debate he got into with fellow CNN host Don Lemon.
Fox News reports:
During their nightly hand-off, [Don Lemon’s] primetime colleague Chris Cuomo began by describing 2020 as the most “definitional” election in his lifetime. Lemon appeared to attempt to shame Trump supporters, and asked them if they will “continue to fall for the o-ke-doke.” But then he questioned the media’s responsibilities in covering Trump’s candidacy.
The “CNN Tonight” anchor urged Cuomo to “think about the most despicable people in history” and warned him that he was going to use an “extreme example.”
“Think about Hitler. Think about any of those people… if you could look back in history, would you say, ‘Well, I’m so glad that person was allowed a platform so that they could spread their hate and propaganda and lies,’ or would you say, ‘That probably wasn’t the right thing to do to spread that because you knew in that moment that was a bad person and they were doing bad things. And not only were they hurting people, they were killing people.”
“I think that the example matters,” Cuomo responded. “And that’s a very extreme example.”
Lemon then began arguing with Cuomo, bringing up the Central Park 5 case and telling Cuomo that “that can be a life or death issue for people like me”, blaming Trump for their incarceration.
When Cuomo continued to push back, Lemon pressed on, bringing up the Charlottesville riots and Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comment that Lemon himself won’t admit networks like CNN have lied about:
And people — and for — you know, demonizing immigrants and talking about sh*t hole countries and saying that there are very fine people on both sides. For people of color in this country it is a life or death issue.
Ask Mrs. Heyer, Heather Heyer’s mother who I had on. That is a life or death issue. So, you know, I’m just saying we just need to be careful about having this is a standard rule. This is not standard. This is not normal.
Despite Lemon’s insistence, Cuomo did not back down:
LEMON: It starts with little lies. It starts with little lies that become bigger lies. And it starts with people who become brainwashed. Ask anybody — ask anyone who had a family member who went to Guyana. Start with a little thing. People start to buy into it. Then all of a sudden, you become, it becomes a reality to you.
Good people follow bad people. It doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person. It just means they were used. And that they were in some ways co-opted. Doesn’t mean they’re bad people. But it starts with very little things. It takes some little, some truth and then falsity. And you keep capitalizing on it. So.
CUOMO: Right. That’s how cons work. But I’m just saying, a con, something that isn’t true versus a cult versus a genocidal maniac. I just think you should go one step at a time.
Watch the segment below (captured in two tweets):
Cuomo pushes back later in the segment against the Hitler comparison, prompting Lemon to say he wasn't making the comparison.
Lemon would later proceed to insinuate that Trump could become a dictator, saying it starts with little lies and brainwashing people. pic.twitter.com/H9p9LJx9C0
— Cameron Cawthorne (@Cam_Cawthorne) June 19, 2019
Rhetorically speaking, Lemon is treading on dangerous ground here with the precedent he is setting (which is also a precedent his fellow Democrats like AOC and others are also setting) in making false Hitler comparisons.
To varying degrees, the political opposition has been painting presidents from the opposing party as the next Hitler going back several presidential election cycles. The only time it gets called out, however, is when Republicans do it. Anytime a hint of this comparison was made during the Obama and Clinton administrations, it was shut down by politicians on both sides and many media types, too.
But Bush was compared to Hitler with regularity – and so-called journalists with a self-serving agenda would sometimes get in on the act, too. Same same for the elder Bush and Reagan, too.
If you try hard enough, anyone can “make a case” that a politician who “starts with little lies” is the next Hitler, but when you have to do it with false comparisons – as Lemon did with the “fine people” lie and falsely blaming Trump for the Central Park 5 outcome – your case quickly falls apart.
Cuomo didn’t accuse Lemon of making false comparisons in those cases – primarily because he agrees with him on those points. But at least on the issue of comparing Trump to Hitler in a general sense, Cuomo had the sense to tell Lemon to slow down.
Now if only Lemon, Cuomo, and other CNN primetime anchors would take Lemon’s “starts with little lies” standard and apply it to their fake news reporting, maybe stories like the Covington kids controversy would never have become a thing, the “fine people on both sides” myth would not exist, the Jussie Smollett case would have been more critically examined from the start, etc etc…
—Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–